Monday, October 09, 2006

Gadget-happy group oggles inventions By Cheryl Rossi-Staff writer


Rob Matthies hosts the Perpetual-Motion Inventors and Gadgeteers. Photo-Dan Toulgoet

Gadget-happy group oggles inventions

By Cheryl Rossi-Staff writer

Rob Matthies and his wife are shopping for a larger condo, so Matthies bought himself a $50 moisture meter for Christmas so he could see for himself how wet each unit is.

"We would like to check out condos intelligently without having to hire a building inspector," he said. "We get to test the condos ourselves and you don't have to take somebody's word for it."

Using his meter, which he bought online, Matthies sticks four pin-sized prongs into a wall for an immediate reading.

He also packs a heat detector that can check the wiring behind walls and an electromagnetic force detector because "there's a theory that those things cause leukemia," he said.

Matthies has collected gadgets that interest him for at least 30 years and wouldn't disclose how much he spends a year on innovative products. "I don't want my wife to read this," he said, laughing.

Matthies believes many of his tools serve an important purpose. "Maybe the reason I'm alive is because of gadgets." When he and his wife ride their bikes along dark city streets, he switches on his aggression-calming light. "That particular gadget is priceless." He's bought gadgets from Russia and Israel, "wherever there's fun stuff," but most come from China.

Matthies isn't the only one with a love for technology and gadgetry. On a wet Monday night, 13 Lower Mainland residents with a penchant for solving environmental, energy, mechanical and electric problems gathered around a long table to show off their acquisitions and creations, ask questions and share information and enthusiasm. Members of the Perpetual-Motion Inventors and Gadgeteers, they meet monthly in a caf‚ off Main Street.

Matthies was immediately detectable with his black badge with mesmerizing, scrolling red writing that read, "Rob the Gadget Guy."

Engineer Gary Tang brought his home-built electric bike, complete with a three-speed transmission. Attendees gathered around to study the setup, Matthies donning a LED headlamp to illuminate the motor.

Afterward, most ventured into the damp to get a look at energy-saving consultant Philip Be'er's IT car, a Beetle-esque red electric number that he bought from the Dynasty Motorcar Corporation on Annacis Island for $19,000. It costs him $9 a month to run, not including regular car insurance. The IT has a range of 40 kilometres before it needs to be charged for six to eight hours. Be'er sees it as a possible transportation solution for the future, adding that most people travel less than 25 kilometres a day. He envisions people using the cars as a shuttle to commonly owned transportation. The IT is his main form of transportation; he uses vehicles from an automobile co-op as a backup.

Scott Salter had driven from Richmond to show off one of the Canadian-designed inventions Pro-Product Metal and Plastic sells. The multipurpose flashlight he brought includes a manual crank to charge it during emergency situations plus a red caution light, alarm and compass.

The next 90 minutes were a whirl of mechanical and technical terms-torque, rotating mags, transformers, rotors, ferrous cores-and discussions about solar, geothermal and wind energy and fuel cells.

Matthies started the informal group 10 months ago as a forum for tinkerers and innovators to share their inventions and ideas.

Its members meet every second Monday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ariel Caf‚ at 73 Kingsway, just north of Broadway. .

published on 02/01/2006


Blogger vince said...

dear rob;is your discovery of how to rejuvinate batteries something you share and if so how does one come to receive this knowledge from you.

2:12 PM  

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